A five year study that was conducted by the United Nations agency for women’s rights found that women make up a shockingly low percent of people featured in the media. Less than one-fourth of all people showcased on television, the radio and in newspapers are women, as females only represented 24% of all people employed on these mediums.
This statistic hasn’t changed in more than half of a decade. The study was conducted in 114 countries worldwide, and the 2015 numbers are exactly the same as those from 2010. Women’s rights activists from the United Nations are saying that these findings should serve as a wake-up call in order to allow for women to have more representation in the media.
In general, women need to be better represented in media houses and in newsrooms. United Nations Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has spoken much about this problem in the past, and it remains a hot button issue for feminists.
Out of each of the 54 topic categories that were examined in the study, only four categories featured women more often than men. These topics were female politicians, reproductive rights, family relations and fashion and style. This shows that stereotypes about women have been largely unchanged over the past several years, as media leaders are continuing to predominantly feature females in topics that are perceived to be feminine, while leaving the women out of topics that are considered to be masculine.
Indeed, women were featured the least in stories regarding national defense, foreign policy, peace negotiations and economics. Notice how these are all topics that include a large amount of important decision making. By not featuring women in these topics, it implies that women are unable to make decisions, and that major decisions should be left to men. Additionally, men are said to dominate hard news, such as politics, science and crime stories.
Unless women receive more representation in the media, it will be difficult to change longstanding and troublesome gender stereotypes. It’s time for the world to make a stronger effort to include women not just in the media in general, but also in male dominated topics so that perceptions about women can change. Women can be strong leaders, and they can cover hardline issues too. However, they will never be able to unless they are given the proper opportunity.